Friday, October 19, 2018

Geese, planes and stormy weather

When last I wrote, we had arrived in Oshkosh and settled in at Kalbus Country Harbor campground near the town of Black Wolf on Lake Winnebago. The camping sites here are minimal but the view of the lake is wonderful. After a quiet night's sleep we woke up and spotted a couple of families of Canadian geese hunting breakfast.

After our own breakfast we headed out for the EAA Aviation Museum in Oshkosh. This museum is dedicated to the preservation and display of historic and experimental aircraft of all sorts. Operated by the Experimental Aircraft Association, it's absolutely huge! If you are the least bit interested in aircraft of all sorts, this is a must visit kind of place. Of course anyone who knows me knows this is absolutely NOT my cup of tea but anyone who knows Geoffrey understands why he can wander around here all day. This is one of the reasons we have an RV though. He can leave me behind in the RV to do as I please and take all the time he wants without worrying about me.

EAA has a huge parking area and we parked Wolf down in one corner and I settled in for a quiet day of reading and cleaning up our little home away from home while Geoff trudged off through the rainy day to ogle all the aircraft in the museum.

Being a small area, the inside of Wolf doesn't get too out of hand but it does sort of get messy around the edges. Besides some general tidying up though we had acquired a bunch of purplish stains on the floor and carpet a couple of days ago at the parking at the Studebaker museum which my regular readers would have spotted in "From Studebaker to Jelly Bellys!" Between there and here in Oshkosh we had made a stop at a WalMart and picked up some spray carpet cleaner so I was armed and ready. (A sidenote, the carpet cleaner did a great job) We also had parked intentionally by a trash can so I spent a nice quiet day alternating cleaning with doing nothing or reading.

By late afternoon, Geoff had his fill (temporarily anyway) of looking at old planes and we headed out for an early dinner at a place not far from EAA and which filled our 'not quite a rule' about eating at places that are NOT available around St Augustine. Friar Tucks was no only close by (which is a good thing when you are driving a big thing like Wolf) but also quiet and had a decent menu at decent prices.

Oshkosh is a really nice town and if we had buckets of money I would definitely consider having a summer place here and becoming a snowbird probably because I am not at all sure I would want Wisconsin winters.

After eating we headed back to our site on the lake arriving shortly before stormy weather. The lake was already roiled up and splashing on shore and we soon had wind and rain which didn't photograph well through the windows but no way was I gonna get out in that to try for a picture!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Vroom ... vrooooom

Nibbling away on our Jelly Bellies we headed for Milwaukee and better roads finally! The Harley Davidson Museum isn't too far off the interstate and once we sorted out some parking confusion that was okay. Their parking arrangements don't really allow for Wolf style vehicles and it was extra tough because we arrived before some kind of event where they had extra spaces blocked off.

The distance we were parked made PoGoGo a necessity and was I glad because it was needed inside as well as the museum is two floors of extensive displays of Harley Davidson motorcycles from the earliest in 1903 onward. A couple of years ago we saw the Discovery channels 3 part series on "Harley and the Davidsons" which was fascinating and gave us incredible background for visiting the museum. The series was about the people ... the museum is more about the motorcycles.

And now I have distracted myself thoroughly and watched a bunch of the preview clips about the movie ... back to the museum where they have Harley-Davidson motorcycles for just about every year the company was in business and they include the delivery, sidecar, military ... about every model that existed.

I could put lots more up here but for sure I would miss somebody's favorite! I love how they put the model years (1939 and 1940 in the photo above) right on the front fender, not distracting to the model, yet clearly visible.

After a couple of hours trying to hide the drooling over the bikes (I bet we were not the only ones) we had dinner at the restaurant there, the Motor Bar and Restaurant which is quite good, especially for eats at a museum. As you can imagine there is a great store with all sorts of jackets, model cycles, ball caps and other hats. The main thing is, if you are anywhere near Milwaukee some day, be sure to visit here.

From here we headed north in the late afternoon to Oshkosh passing more windmills and a couple of old pitiful motels that were no where near where the exits were constructed when the interstate went in. Oshkosh was nice even at the brief glance we had of it while we found a place to stay which turned out to we the Kalbus Country Harbor in the nearby town of Black Wolf, right on Lake Winnebago. Below is the view out our windshield!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

From Studebaker to Jelly Bellys!

After heading north on I-65 for a bit we turned eastwards on a digression towards South Bend and Elkhart. The roads are still bad and if it weren't for that, this part of the trip would be pleasant with lots of rural area. There are more windmills (yes, they're everywhere) and soybean and corn crops in a patchwork of fields. These corn and soybean crops are rotated from field to field as not only are both good crops but it helps control diseases and pests that bother each individually. The soybeans put nirogen in the soil which improves the corn crop. Some farmers add alfalfa and wheat to the rotation.

As we drove along I caught glimpses of deer several times including one which was a deer running along the edge of a field. Further along we were sometimes in a cottonwood blizzard where the cottonwood trees release their seeds like dandelions. I tried to get some shots of that but the camera and cottonwood fuzz just would not cooperate.

We soon turned off the interstate headed for South Bend ... the roads were even worse! It gets just a little confusing when you arrive as one building houses the History Museum which includes the Studebaker Museum, a Tiffany museum, an exhibit of Notre Dame architecture and tours of the nearby Oliver Mansion and the Worker's Home which is a house furnished to reflect that of a working class family in the 1930's. We only had time for the Studebaker Museum but if you are making plans to be in this area, give yourself at least one whole day for all there is to see and do.

The parking wasn't the best for Wolf and we ended up over behind the Worker's Home under some mulberry trees. We got PoGoGo unloaded and entered the lobby which is where you pay admission based on how many of the museums you plan to visit. The Studebaker collection is off to the right from this lobby and turns out to be much larger than one might suspect from outside it.

I had absolutely no idea how much Studebaker had done. It began in the 1850's when the Studebaker brothers opened a blacksmith shop in South Band becoming a leading manufacturer of horse-drawn wagons and carriages, eventually providing wagons to the Union forces in the Civil War, carriages and such to presidents, supply wagons including the beginnings of the Jeep, and the impressive wagons pulled by the Budweiser Clydesdales. The museum has many models of Studebaker wagons, carriages, and automobiles on display.

Remember above where I mentioned we parked under some mulberry trees? At the time, having had experience with mulberries as a kid, I warned Geoff to watch where he walked and clean his feet off before he went back in ... well, he forgot. Now we had dark purple footprints up the steps, across the carpet, over the engine hump and onto the driver's side carpet.

From here we and the dark purple footprints headed further east to Elkhart and the RV/MH Hall of Fame. The RV Founders Hall displays trailers and such going back to the 1920's. It was interesting but unless you have other reasons to be in this area I'm not sure it is worth the trip. The store was also disappointing for the most part with not much available and much of it aimed at the RV'er's needs.

We soon headed for the nearby Elkhart Campground for the night. Admittedly, Elkhart is pretty much the RV capital with all sorts of RV dealers and stores and if you're looking for something special for an RV, Elkhart is a good place to look. If we had had more time we might have looked into getting the dashboard fixed.

The next morning we retraced our path and headed north through Gary, Indiana, and then up through Chicago. One interesting sight was that of a metro system which runs principally through the median of the interstate from Gary up into Chicago. It is quite odd to glance to the center median and see metro stations smack dab in the center of the median. Another odd sight are the signs indicating 'crash investigation sites' pointing to widened roadsides with room for those in an accident to pull out of the traffic pattern and exchange information, quite probably a good idea in such a heavily trafficked area.

Other odd sights along the way include a two story mobile home being pulled along and so-called road trains with tractor trailers pulling three trailers instead of just one or the infrequent two. The hustle bustle of Chicago finally eased off as we headed in to Wisconsin on I-94/I-41.

A few miles into Wisconsin is the exit for Pleasant Prairie near Kenosha and the Jelly Belly warehouse tour. The tour is free and again, we found the staff very helpful to the mobility impaired. We had left my PoGoGo on its carrier on Wolf as the website showed the little train that takes visitors around the warehouse tour. The initial person at the counter spotted that I was having to lean on the wall or Geoffrey while we waited in line and had us come around to a bench we could sit on to wait our turn. Then she escorted us to an elevator to go up to the first area, called Jelly Belly Station, which shows some of the older machines and works to group enough riders for a train load. We then got escorted to the train and helped into it.

The train tour itself goes from stop to stop with videos showing how the jelly belly candies are made and imparting some of the history of the company. At the end everyone is given a small packet of jelly bellys. The stop of course is right at the entrance for the store but who can go to such a place and not buy any jelly bellys? And NO, I am not gonna tell you how much I spent there!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Wolves, Tippecanoe and no Subaru!

Our original plan had included a tour of the Subaru plant in Lafayette as we are long time Subaru owners and we have on order a new Subaru Ascent that is probably built or being built at that plant in Lafayette. Unfortunately, we found that you have to call and make arrangements ahead of time and only on certain days which this wasn't one of them.

So, instead we made a WalMart run and then went for an early lunch at Spagheddies, a nice Italian place that is one of three, the others being a PaPa Vino's in Michigan and one in Indiana besides this location. It was quite nice, wish we had one down here in Florida.

After lunch we headed for the Wolf Park. We of course had to go to a wolf place with a coach named Timmberwolf and located on our route. We unloaded PoGoGo and headed in to the entrance/visitor center. The staff told us that there were parts of the park that would be difficult for the mobility chair but then they offered to give us a private tour driven around by one of the staff!

Although I took a lot of pictures of the different wolves, most of them show more of the fence surrounding the large areas the different wolves get to call home. Seems the camera likes to focus on the closest item (the fence) rather than the wolves further inside! The best shot of those I took show these three, brothers, resting on top of their wooden shelter in the heat of the day. These three are the sons of Timber (a female) and Wolfgang (a male) whom we also saw.

Our tour also included most of the other wolves, a few that were not showing themselves at the time, as well as some foxes, grey and red, and a coyote, and, a real surprise, a bison herd! The bison herd included several calves.

Our next stop which is very near the Wolf Park is the Tippecanoe Battlefield Park and museum. Designated a National Historic Landmark, the park has a small museum, a history store with a nice selection of reproductions of historic goods and clothing, and across from it, a monument to the 1811 battle of Tippecanoe. The museum focuses on the battle itself and the early settlement of the area especially by Native Americans and the events and people which led up to the battle.

This is a rural area just north of Lafayette, Indiana, and just east of I-65 northbound. There are several places that are great to visit here, most especially the Wolf Park and Tippecanoe but also the information about Prophetstown. All I knew before coming here was that old election slogan, 'Tippecanoe and Tyler too.'

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Lots of time ....

But not saying much. I usually minimize what I mention about family, especially specific family members as many people just plain don't like being out on the web, definitely not their names and pictures. This blog is viewed by very few and would probably be a safe place to mention people but it really doesn't hurt not to.

After leaving the Carlisle Army Barracks we headed for an RV Park in Gettysburg which is near one of my sister's home. We stayed there two nights and enjoyed an entire day with my sister and her husband.

From there we decided to take the turnpike west towards Ohio and some of Geoffrey's family. Ant at this point I really need to step aside and mention the roads! West Virginia had a few bad places and once we hit Pennsylvania the roads really got rough. The toll road was a bit better but in spite of the small fortune we spent on tolls, the roads were often rough.

Now I do realize that compared to the south, the roads up here in the more northern part of the country are subject to frost heaves and compared to the west, most of the roads are older but as we bump down the road, I don't care. The roads here are bad. And, to be honest, they did only got a little better in Ohio and went back to terrible when we got to Indiana.

Even when your RV is in perfect shape one can worry about what might shake loose. In our case, we had managed to pull our tailpipe loose and it was awfully close to the rear driver's side tire and getting lower it seemed all the time.The dashboard was also coming apart at the passenger end where it appears the screw holding it together had simply torn itself out. You can now imagine how we felt about the rough roads!

Okay, off the rant about road conditions, for now anyway! We got to Geoff's sister's on the west side of Cleveland, Ohio and stayed there for a couple of days. We especially like this stop because not only do we get to visit with family but we also can catch up on laundry, one of the fun chores on the road. While there we also got to see his brother and his family and got to go out to dinner with one of Geoffrey's school chums.

From here we head to southwestern Ohio and Geoff's nephew and his family including two children, a sweetheart of a girl and a baby too young to say much about yet. Geoff and his nephew spent the day at the National Museum of the US Air Force which Geoffrey had gone to on our visit to Ohio a couple of years ago but found it so big he needed to go back. They got back mid afternoon and we all went to his nephew's house to have take out Chinese and a great visit.

Seems like we just zipped through here but this blog actually covers about a week over the three family visits. Since we were already near Dayton, it did not take long to get to Indiana which seemed to have even worse roads! Thus on the 10th we pulled up, in the rain, at a Camping World just north of Richmond, Indiana, the main impetus being that the toilet had backed up the day before and even Indiana's rough roads didn't shake it loose. Being a Sunday none of the service types were around but we set up an appointment for first thing the next morning and decided that under the circumstances a hotel would be a good choice.

We stayed just one exit south of the Camping World at the Holiday Inn in one of their rooms for the handicapped. The bed was hard as a rock and the shower liked to run across the bathroom floor but the toilet was nice!

At the Camping World we laid out money to get Wolf's toilet running again ... we have gathered that this is one of the most common RV problems. We also checked with them about the roof leak, exhaust pipe and dashboard coming undone. The roof wasn't currently leaking and would have meant staying there for a few days, the exhaust pipe wasn't something they could fix and the dash would also have meant days, they said just watch it. This was the same advice the muffler shop they referred us to said about the exhaust pipe, keep an eye on it.

On our way north we stopped to fuel up and as usual, Wolf was thirsty. I like this shot through the side view mirror of Geoff half leaning on Wolf waiting on the fill.

The GPS took us to the wrong office for the state park we were headed to but it must happen frequently as there was a sign on the office door about it! We finally got to the Prophetstown State Park campground where we had reservations, and found our slot, a nice pull through with hookups and nicely spaced away from other campers.

Carlisle Army Barracks

Today's destination is the Carlisle Barracks and the US Army Heritage & Education Center.  Arriving there, we unloaded PoGoGo and headed first for the Army Heritage Trail which is about a mile long and has "fourteen individual exhibits include full scale reconstructions of a French and Indian War way station, Redoubt Number 10 from the Revolutionary War siege of Yorktown, a section of the Antietam battlefield, a Civil War winter encampment with cabins, a WWI trench system, a WWII company area, a replicated Normandy Bocage scene from World War II, a Current Operations HESCO Bastion barrier checkpoint, and an interpretation of the Vietnam helicopter air assault at Ia Drang that includes a period Fire Support Base."

The above quote is from the Army Heritage Trail web page, part of an excellent site about the Center. On that page you can click on the items in the list of exhibits and see pictures and infomation  about each of them.

We took our time at most of these exhibits and there are several benches along the way for resting. Of course with PoGoGo I didn't need the benches but it was nice for Geoffrey and provided some nice stopping points.

You can actually go into the entrance to the German pillbox that is part of the WWI trench system but we both chose not to hunker down and creep through the dark passage.

Yorktown Redoubt

From the trail we went into the Visitor and Education Center building for the indoor exhibits, some of which are changed frequently. Just the Soldier Experience Gallery alone is fascinating showing the soldier's point of view from joining up to coming home. Part of the space is given over to a changing exhibit area showing new soldier stories and special topics. There are additional exhibits principally from the Spanish American War up through Afghanistan and the War on Terror. Allow several hours for this visit, better yet the entire day. If you're looking to do research on individuals, units, battles or wars, there is also the Ridgeway Hall Research Room.

Of course never forget the Visitor Center's shop ... always a source of good souvenirs and ball caps but also the proceeds from these places generally go to the support of the attached museum so I prefer to get my souvenirs at such places rather than regular stores. Here I got a great ball cap and a cuddly Army bear that will go well with a pair of bears I bought last year at the Black Bear Diner in Cottonwood, Arizona.

Of chocolate and iron and more

After resting a day at the Elizabethtown KOA, we got an early start and arrived at the nearby Hershey factory and amusement park before they were even open although thankfully the parking area was mostly empty so parking was easy although the picture to the right is a little misleading. After settling into that spot and getting PoGoGo unloaded, we were asked to move as that area was for the shuttles. Luckily, we only had to move around to the other side of that little median so we were in the shade even. You can see in the background that there were very few other visitors yet!

We killed a little time exploring the little park area between the Chocolate World building where the tour of the factory process would be and the amusement park area with various rides including a roller coaster. This latter area is what got flooded a few weeks later along with several other parts of the area around Hershey.

By the time the tour building opened there were mobs of people! We went in and after making our way through the front area we got to where the tour starts. I must say that they have the whole issue of the mobility impaired handled very nicely. They have small sets of cars that go through the tour and to get on them you step first on to a slowly moving circular floor which moves at the same speed as the cars. Attendants are there to help people on and off the cars and some of the cars are specially set up to have space for wheelchairs.

The tour itself is definitely aimed at children and was more cutesy than informative about the actual candy making process but for what it was, it was well done. When you finish the tour there is of course the huge store area with all sorts of Hershey branded choices. I got a ball cap of course and a cute little model 1953 pickup in Hershey chocolate color.

From Hershey we headed for nearby Cornwall and the Cornwall Iron Furnace. The Furnace is tucked away out in the country and we began to think we had some how lost our way and there it was, suddenly. There was a Mennonite or Amish wedding party taking group pictures but it was otherwise pleasantly quiet for our visit. There is an excellent short film telling about iron furnaces and this one in particular. As a souvenir I got a cute little iron mouse doorstop, made in China <sigh>, but cute and appropriate.

One of the things we have found on our travels is that there is a lot of little fascinating stuff out there. Most of it is not enough to go way out of your way for but always check the route you are taking to see if there is any odd little place tucked away on your journey. A good resource for this is which should always be checked when you are planning a trip. We have found that many of these places are older, still surviving from back before the interstate highways rushed people along.

Our next stop, a little further east on I-76 in Shartlesville is one of these odd places, the Roadside America miniature village.This is a huge model town with trains, hand built buildings, tiny people and more with walkways around the perimeter with buttons to push to animate the mechanical things like the trains or lights. Absolutely fascinating!

From here we headed for our last stop of the day, the Western Village RV Park in Carlisle, just west of Harrisburg., a nice relatively quiet park near our next destination.